Trump and the GOP are sending Putin 'a very simple message -- weakness': Foreign Relations Democrat
US President Donald Trump (right) and Russia's President Vladimir Putin talk during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders' summit in the central Vietnamese city of Danang on November 11, 2017 (AFP Photo/JORGE SILVA)

New Jersey Democrat and Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Robert Menendez told CNN on Wednesday that by undermining NATO, President Donald Trump and the Republican Party were sending Russian President Vladimir Putin a message that the United States is weak, with terrible implications for "the international order."

"The president has made many public comments undermining NATO," said host Jim Sciutto, noting that Trump's hostility to the alliance forced a vote in the House expressing support that still failed to win the votes of 22 Republicans. "Does Vladimir Putin read the signals from the president and from those Republicans that NATO is a paper tiger, and that he can challenge it and invade a NATO ally on the eastern front?"

"I think Vladimir Putin thinks 'I made the best bet ever when I tried to help Donald Trump become president of the United States,'" replied Menendez, ticking off example after example of unchecked Russian aggression.

"At the end of the day? A president that can't seem to find his spine as it relates to Vladimir Putin," Menendez continued. Putin, he added, "gets messages that are very simple and he only understands strength. Right now he's seeing weakness and the result of that is we will see him expand even more."

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